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Filtered Water Bottle Buyers Guide

Articles on 18 Apr , 2015
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Looking to get the purest water possible where ever you are? The simple answer is to invest in a portable water filter bottle. These ultra-portable filters are ideal for extracting the yuck from your water. Providing you with a bit of peace of mind on the go, having your own filter not only gives you the best tasting water possible, it can even prevent you from consuming harmful bacteria or chemicals. In the case of some of the best filtered water bottles, the filters are powerful enough to potentially even prove a lifesaving device.

(UPDATE: This article still contains a lot of great information and suggestions, but for a more up-to-date perspective, check out our Best Filtered Water Bottles Guide 2018.)

Finding the Best Filtered Water Bottle

There are quite a few things to consider when picking up a filtered water bottle. In order to help you complete your quest to find the best filtered water bottle on the market, you’ll need to know a bit of background information on how filtered bottles work and what they do. Lets dive in!



FIT Top Bottle
$25
24 Ounce
Pour-Through Filter
Filters Potable Water
Lightweight
Buy on Amazon
Lifestraw Go
$30
23 Ounce
Suction Filter
Filters Non-Potable Water
Removable LifeStraw
Buy on Amazon
Mountop UV
$65
25 Ounce
UV Filter
Filters Non-Potable Water
Rechargeable Battery
Buy on Amazon
Brita Sport Filter
$8
20 Ounce
Squeeze-Through Filter
Filters Potable Water
Bargain Price
Buy on Amazon

What Your Filter is Filtering

Remove contaminants from drinking water with a filtered bottle
There are three primary forms of water contaminants which water filters are concerned with removing. They are:

  1. Chemical Compounds: Both organic (such as pesticides and disinfectants) and inorganic chemicals (such as chlorine, arsenic, fluoride or copper.) Chemical compounds find their way into water naturally (things like minerals) or artifically (things like fluoride added to water, copper or metal contaminants from plumbing, or even chemical fertilizers and other synthetic chemicals which can leech into water sources.)
  2. Bacteria and Parasites: Bacteria and parasites are living microorganisms which are present in the water we drink. While most bacteria and parasites are harmless or even helpful, some can have extremely negative health impacts, such as Cryptosporidium or Clostridium which cause vomiting and diarreha.
  3. Viruses: Viruses are often thought of as similar to bacteria, although they have many key differences. The most important when it comes to filters is the fact that viruses can be tens or hundreds of times smaller than most bacteria. This makes them exceptionally hard to filter and most water filters are not fine enough to remove virus particles.

For more information on water contaminants, see this excellent page from water.epa.gov.

Consider the Source!

To select the best filtered water bottle for your needs, its important to consider the source of your water. The best water bottle with a filter designed for one application might be totally unequipped for another task. If your goal is merely to have an extra filter between your body and your everyday tap water, then just about any run-of-the-mill filtered water bottle will do.

Mwamongu Woman Finds Water

With the proper filters, water sources can become plentiful.

But if your goal is to have a filtered water bottle that can collect water from any source that is not typically considered clean drinking water, your going to want something a bit more heavy duty. While a standard, low-end filter bottle might do a great job at taking any undesirable taste from your water and maybe even filtering out some quantity of bacteria, they are definitely not the ideal instrument for filtering water from potentially questionable sources. If in doubt about the quality of the water you’ll be drinking, don’t skimp and put your health on the line – do your research and get the very best filtering water bottle you can find.

Check before buying if your filtered water bottle is designed for use with tap water or is capable of safely filtering from other sources. It will be clearly advertised if it can be used with water from outside of a tap – if you can’t find any mention of using it with river water, rain water, or similar sources, err on the side of caution and only use it for tap water or contact the manufacturer for more information.

Common Types of Water Bottle Filters

There are two forms of filter most commonly used in filtered water bottles:

Used Brita Carbon Water Filter

Cross section of a used Brita water filter with carbon filter clearly displayed.

  • Carbon Filter: Carbon filters are widely used across the world for their simplicity and effectiveness at chemical filtering. Carbon filters are composed of a layer of activated ccarbon which the water passes through, removing contaminants down to extremely small sizes, depending on how fine the filter has been made (measured in microns.) Carbon filters gradually wear out and accumulate with waste and must be periodically replaced. These are the most common form of filter found in a water filtration bottle.
  • UV Filter: Far less common (and more expensive) than carbon filters, UV filters make use of powerful ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria. They do not remove chemical compounds or alter the taste of the water as much as a carbon filter, but are far more effective at eliminating viruses and effectively sterilizing water. UV and carbon filters can be combined for a double-whammy approach to getting clean water.


Gettin’ Filtered

As it turns out, one of the most important parts of any filtered water bottle is the mechanism it uses to actually pass the water through the filter. Carbon filters require the water to be physically passed through the activated carbon and therefore tend to require some method to move the liquid through the filter. UV filters on the other hand are simply lights which need to be focused on the water for a short period.

Lets take a look at some different bottles on the market and how they accomplish their filtering to get a better idea of whats available.

(UPDATE: Although the bottles we list below are still great, it has been awhile since we put this list together. For a more up-to-date look at filter bottles available, click here to read the Best Filter Bottles section of our Best Water Bottles 2017 article.)

FIT Top 24 Ounce Pour-Through Filtering Water Bottle (~$25 on Amazon.com)24 Ounce FIT Top Filtering Water Bottles

FIT Top Filtering Water Bottle filter diagram

(Update: Check our our full review of the FIT Top.)

The FIT Top is unique on the market for featuring a “pour-through” filter. While many filtering bottles filter their contents from the inside, the FIT Top passes the water through the filter as it enters the bottle, instead of on its way out. The result of this little switcharoo is a filtering water bottle which you can still put additives in. If you want the benefits of filtered water but like to have a little flavor added, investigate picking up a FIT Top – ideal for filtering tap water and getting the best tasting drink every time!

LIFESAVER Water Bottle (~$150 on Amazon.com)

LIFESAVER Filtered Water Bottle with Pneumatic Pressurized Flow

LIFESAVER Filtering Bottle with Pump Handle ShownBy far the most expensive entry in this list, the LIFESAVER bottle is in some ways in a class of its own. Unlike any other filtered bottle on the market in terms of its filtration quality, the LIFESAVER bottle is equipped with a powerful microbiological filter with pores as small as 15 nanometers, enough to take care of just about any water borne pathogen out there. Further complimenting the filtration power of the LIFESAVER is its pneumatic pressurized design.

To get water out of the LIFESAVER bottle, you need to give it a few pumps to pressurize. Once some pressure is built up, releasing the spout lets out a stream of fresh, filtered running water. Unlike every other entry on this list, the LIFESAVER is capable of providing not only filtered, drinkable water from non-potable sources, but also providing a source of clean, running water where ever you might happen to find yourself.

We are big fans of the LIFESAVER bottle. Read our complete review here.

LifeStraw Go 23 Ounce Water Bottle with Integrated LifeStraw Filter (~$30 on Amazon.com) 23 Ounce LifeStraw Go Filtered Water Bottle

Fill LifeStaw Go Bottle From Lake or River

Water, water, everywhere!

(Update: check out our comprehensive review of the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle.)

(Update 2: A new version of the LifeStraw Go Bottle is available which incorporates a second stage of carbon filtration to improve taste and odor of the water. Read our review of the updated LifeStraw Go 2 Water Bottle.)

The LifeStraw is a portable filtering technology which uses a super-fine filter capable of filtering particles as small as 0.2 microns. Integrated into a high quality, BPA-free plastic bottle, the LifeStraw Go is the kind of thing you would want if you need a water bottle capable of filtering river, rain, or even puddle water.

In the LifeStraw, water is delivered through the filter via suction, meaning you’ll have to do the work of pulling the water through the filter more or less yourself – a small price to pay for (relatively) clean water anywhere you can find enough to drink. As handy as the LifeStraw is, even its super-fine filter is not enough to extract viruses. If you plan on drinking from questionable sources somewhere waterborne viruses are common, you’ll definitely be wanting to invest in the best UV filter water bottle you can find.

Mountop UV Purification Water Bottle (~$65 on Amazon.com)MounTop UV Filter Water Bottle

MounTop UV FIltering Water Bottle Lid

The MounTop UV filter lid.

The Mountop is a simple yet effective design: a powerful UV light is mounted to the top of a BPA-free plastic water bottle. Simply fill the bottle up, turn on the UV light, wait 90 seconds, and voila! Sterilized drinking water ready to appease thirsty mouths.

The Mountop incorporates a rechargeable battery to power the UV light which can be charged from any USB port. It also has an LCD indicator of low battery, and even a handy LED flashlight should you find yourself in need of some illumination

Brita Sport 20 Ounce Filtered Water Bottle (~$8 on Amazon.com)Brita 20 Ounce Squeeze Filtered Water Bottle

This selection from Brita is pretty plain – definitely not the best filtered water bottle on the market, but not bad – actually, I’ve selected it for precisely that reason! Using a basic carbon filter only suitable for tap water, this bottle filters your water as it leaves the top. Like many filtering bottles, this Brita can be squeezed to force water through the filter and out of the bottle, or you can do the work yourself and use it as a straw.

Tasting is Believing!

What is the best filtered water bottle? I suggest you try some out and let your taste buds decide! Even if you don’t need some fancy super filter that can let you drink the water from any roadside puddle, you can probably still appreciate what a difference a quality filter can make to normal tap water. Free your water (and your body) from contaminants with the help of a water filtration bottle!

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Looking for a filtered water bottle? Don't miss this in-depth guide which includes everything you need to know to make the right purchase.

Filtered Water Bottle Buyers Guide was last modified on: October 17th, 2017 by Jacob Hatch
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Hydration Anywhere > Articles > Reviews > Water Bottles > Filter/Purify > Filtered Water Bottle Buyers Guide

19 thoughts on “Filtered Water Bottle Buyers Guide

  1. Tony "Scoop" Glumac says:

    Next year, I am seriously considering embarking on a family vacation/summer archaeology adventure to Rome and surrounding historical sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae). I have learned that in Rome, the city provides free running water from many fountain spigots for residents and tourists but you must provide your own bottle. I’d like to purchase a “Goldilocks” type filtered water bottle..not too cheap, not too expensive…but..just right…in the middle. Any recommendations?
    Most appreciatively,
    Tony “Scoop” Glumac

    1. Jacob says:

      Hey Tony,

      Hope you have a great trip! Since the water you are filtering is already drinkable tap water, you can probably get away with going on the cheaper side. A lot of different bottles should fit the ticket. Something like a Refresh2Go Filter Bottle would probably get the job done on the cheap. Or if you want to spend a little more and get a more heavy duty filter, the LifeStraw Go Bottle will provide you with the ability to filter not only from already potable sources but also dirty puddles or running streams.

    2. Noreen says:

      Went to Rome a few years ago. The water from the fountain spigots is good and clean. We just used a regular water bottle and had no problems

  2. Doris Schillinger says:

    Great information. I would like to know which system you would recommend my husband who travels with in the USA. He works on construction sites and supervises the work from the ground up. He drinks from well water, motel water and ice machines.

    1. Jacob says:

      Hi Doris,

      Just about any filtered bottle should work for your husband’s needs. Since he is only drinking from already potable sources, any of the lower-priced filter bottles designed for use with tap water will work to take out any bad flavors, odors, and eliminate more common microorganisms. Something like the FIT Top Bottle or even the simple Brita Sport Filter Bottle should take care of him just fine.

  3. Georgina Chco says:

    Hi, my father and I are going into a desert adventure, and I’d like to know wich bottle should we buy if it’s possible we will run out of water and most likely have to drink from rivers or any other source of water we find (in an extreme situation).
    Do you think the Mountop UV would work?

    1. Jacob says:

      Hey Georgina,

      It’s important to note with something like the Mountop UV that it doesn’t contain an actual filter. It just has a UV light which acts as a purifier. This is great for killing microorganisms, but won’t actually remove anything from your water: it just zaps bacteria dead. There is also the important fact that these UV light systems rely on electricity, which tends to be very sparse in the desert!

      So if you are going the filtered water bottle route and preparing for any “extreme situations” that might arise, you’ll want a heavy-duty filter bottle. At the highest end of the spectrum you could get something like the LIFESAVER Bottle, but realistically the LifeStraw Go will probably fit your needs.

      If you aren’t strictly committed to getting a filtered water bottle and just want a general purpose filter, look into some portable camping filters. Something like the Survivor Filter (read our review of it here,) or the Sawyer Mini (our review) could be a great option. These are really great little portable filters which have various methods of use. In addition to providing you clean water for drinking, they can also provide potable water for cooking and washing, something most filtered bottles won’t do.

      Hope this helps you along the way! Good luck out in the desert. Be safe and stay hydrated!

  4. Joanne DeYoung says:

    I am looking for a filtered bottle to use at home where the water has a lot of chlorine and also taking on vacation to mexico. What do you suggest?

    1. Jacob says:

      Hi Joanne, thanks for reading and commenting!

      If you are going for pure at-home use, I might actually recommend checking out a water pitcher filter. (Read our guide on the best water filter pitchers.) Something like the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher removes both chlorine and fluoride and will have a longer filter life span than most water filter bottles.

      However if you want to stick with a water filter bottle (and to have something to accompany you abroad) maybe check out the OKO H2O Advanced Filtration Bottle – it has some of the best filtration of any water filter bottle, and a decent lifespan at 100 gallons per filter. We did a review of the OKO H2O, which you can find here.

      Let me know if you need any more advice!

  5. Jo O'Connor says:

    My son will be guiding all Summer in an area which has had a massive 1080 poison aerial drop. I am really worried about the drinking water in the huts – a friend suggests a charcoal water filter – does anyone have a recommendation for this problem?

  6. Elsea says:

    This was an extremely helpful guide. Thank you for providing value. Is there an existing filtered water bottle that has both a carbon filter and UV?

    1. Jacob says:

      Hello Elsea,

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found the guide helpful! I do not currently know of any filter bottles which have both a UV purifier and carbon filtration built into it. But that certainly seems like a great idea, so I’m actually surprised nobody has already done it. If you want to accomplish this yourself, look into a portable UV purifier like the SteriPEN Adventurer and combine it with a carbon-filter equipped filter bottle and you should have the results you desire.

  7. Alex says:

    Fantastic article. I’ve cross referenced your research enough to believe your homework entirely; thanks for doing the heavy lifting!

    I am going to China 🇨🇳 for 3 weeks. I have a sensitive stomach, and I’m hoping what I drink doesn’t contribute to it. I’ve read several articles about bottled water being the best, but may also be counterfeit tap and/or not fresh in the bottle if there too long. I was thinking the lifestraw 2 would be a great investment, but it does not remove viruses. What do you recommend to drink Chinese tap?

    1. Jacob says:

      Hi Alex,

      The majority of waterborne illness tends to be caused by bacteria. Though it is certainly true that there are viruses that can cause some problems (especially upset stomach!) these tend to be less common concerns than bacteria. In general, I would say you’ll probably be just fine using a LifeStraw in China (assuming you’re not really trying to test it with some nasty water you find somewhere.) If you’re mainly using tap water, bottled water, or otherwise water that has been deemed potable, the Lifestraw should in most instances be enough to take care of any residual contaminants.

      However, if you are really concerned with viruses, you do have a few options. There aren’t many filtering water bottles on the market which filter out viruses, but you can improvise! You could try something like the SteriPEN Adventurer. This is a hand-held, battery-powered UV water purifying light. You hold it in your water for 90 seconds and it kills >99% of viruses and bacteria. You could combine this with the Lifestraw Go 2 bottle and have an effective solution for eliminating viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants the filter will trap.

      Another solution would be to look into something like the Survivor Filter. This is a straw-type filter, much like the Lifestraw, although it is not available integrated into a water bottle. However, it has a much finer filter than the Lifestraw with jsut 0.05 micron pore size, capable of filtering out viruses. You could carry a normal water bottle and dip the Survivor filter in to drink from.

      Hope this helps! Enjoy your trip to China and I hope your stomach holds up.

  8. Alex says:

    Fantastic. Thank you!!!

  9. Raphael says:

    FYI, chlorine is not organic! It is inorganic!

  10. Pat Gioko says:

    Great information here. I have seen some of these products ship to Africa which is great, considering our perennial shortage of safe drinking water.

  11. Jessica says:

    Great article, thank you. I will be based in London for 2months staying with various friends who don’t filter their tap water. Having read your reviews, I’m still not sure which portable water bottle would suit my need. Any recommendations?
    Would it be possible to use the same bottle you suggest for my trip to Asia next year? I will again be staying with friends who also don’t filter their tap water but I think London’s tap water is probably cleaner than that in Asia. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

    1. Jacob Hatch says:

      Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment.

      For simply filtering tap water, we generally recommend simple carbon filters. The most popular option for this type of filter in low-cast water bottles tends to be a coconut shell carbon filter. These filters do a great job of removing common tap-water contaminants, including particulates, and eliminating the taste and odor of disinfectants such as chlorine. One of our favorite tap-water-only filter bottles is the refresh2go line, with bottles available both in plastic as well as stainless steel. These are great and extremely affordable bottles which include an activated carbon filter made from pure coconut shell. These should be more than enough to make London tap water healthy and delicious.

      Enjoy your travels!

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